How to Avoid a New Cold War

In retaliation for the hacking of John Podesta and the DNC, Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and ordered closure of their country houses on Long Island and Maryland’s Eastern shore.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that 35 U.S. diplomats would be expelled. But Vladimir Putin stepped in, declined to retaliate at all, and invited the U.S. diplomats in Moscow and their children to the Christmas and New Year’s party at the Kremlin.

“A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger,” reads Proverbs 15:1. “Great move,” tweeted President-elect Trump, “I always knew he was very smart!”

Among our Russophobes, one can almost hear the gnashing of teeth.

Clearly, Putin believes the Trump presidency offers Russia the prospect of a better relationship with the United States. He appears to want this, and most Americans seem to want the same. After all, Hillary Clinton, who accused Trump of being “Putin’s puppet,” lost.

Is then a Cold War II between Russia and the U.S. avoidable?

That question raises several others.

Who is more responsible for both great powers having reached this level of animosity and acrimony, 25 years after Ronald Reagan walked arm-in-arm with Mikhail Gorbachev through Red Square? And what are the causes of the emerging Cold War II?

Comes the retort: Putin has put nuclear-capable missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania.

True, but who began this escalation?

George W. Bush was the one who trashed Richard Nixon’s ABM Treaty and Obama put anti-missile missiles in Poland. After invading Iraq, George W. Bush moved NATO into the Baltic States in violation of a commitment given to Gorbachev by his father to not move NATO into Eastern Europe if the Red Army withdrew.

Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, says John McCain.

Russia did, after Georgia invaded its breakaway province of South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers. Putin threw the Georgians out, occupied part of Georgia, and then withdrew.

Russia, it is said, has supported Syria’s Bashar Assad, bombed U.S.-backed rebels and participated in the Aleppo slaughter.

But who started this horrific civil war in Syria?

Was it not our Gulf allies, Turkey, and ourselves by backing an insurgency against a regime that had been Russia’s ally for decades and hosts Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean?

Did we not exercise the same right of assisting a beleaguered ally when we sent 500,000 troops to aid South Vietnam against a Viet Cong insurgency supported by Hanoi, Beijing and Moscow?

That’s what allies do.

The unanswered question: Why did we support the overthrow of Assad when the likely successor regime would have been Islamist and murderously hostile toward Syria’s Christians?

Russia, we are told, committed aggression against Ukraine by invading Crimea.

But Russia did not invade Crimea. To secure their Black Sea naval base, Russia executed a bloodless coup, but only after the U.S. backed the overthrow of the pro-Russian elected government in Kiev.

Crimea had belonged to Moscow from the time of Catherine the Great in the 18th century, and the Russia-Ukraine relationship dates back to before the Crusades. When did this become a vital interest of the USA?

As for Putin’s backing of secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk, he is standing by kinfolk left behind when his country broke apart. Russians live in many of the 14 former Soviet republics that are now independent nations.

Has Putin no right to be concerned about his lost countrymen?

Unlike America’s elites, Putin is an ethnonationalist in a time when tribalism is shoving aside transnationalism as the force of the future.

Russia, it is said, is supporting right-wing and anti-EU parties. But has not our National Endowment for Democracy backed regime change in the Balkans as well as in former Soviet republics?

We appear to be denouncing Putin for what we did first.

Moreover, the populist, nationalist, anti-EU and secessionist parties in Europe have arisen on their own and are advancing through free elections.

Sovereignty, independence, a restoration of national identity, all appear to be more important to these parties than what they regard as an excessively supervised existence in the soft-dictatorship of the EU.

In the Cold War between Communism and capitalism, the single-party dictatorship and the free society, we prevailed.

But in the new struggle we are in, the ethnonational state seems ascendant over the multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial, multilingual “universal nation” whose avatar is Barack Obama.

Putin does not seek to destroy or conquer us or Europe. He wants Russia, and her interests, and her rights as a great power to be respected.

He is not mucking around in our front yard; we are in his.

The worst mistake President Trump could make would be to let the Russophobes grab the wheel and steer us into another Cold War that could be as costly as the first, and might not end as peacefully.

Reagan’s outstretched hand to Gorbachev worked. Trump has nothing to lose by extending his to Vladimir Putin, and much perhaps to win.

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.

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17 Responses to How to Avoid a New Cold War

  1. Sceptic says:


  2. Winston says:

    By the way, you will soon see what it is like livig in neo Saudi Arabia. A nation of janitors will not be able to finance all these wars. Oh wait there will probably be some robot invented to do that job! So I should say a nation of unemployed janitors!

  3. if says:

    I agree, but:

    While the leaders of the Western world have led us into the mess the world is in today because they are imbeciles (I use the word not as an insult but in its medical sense), they are nonetheless not criminals. Putin, on the other hand, is clearly not an imbecile but is almost certainly a criminal.

    Did he orchestrate a series of terrorist attacks in Moscow to start a war through which he could consolidate his grip in power? Did he intend to bring down a Russian plane to justify an all out invasion of Ukraine when MH17 was brought down by mistake, as claimed by the Ukrainian intelligence services? Did he wipe out an unaccommodating Polish government in a very convenient plane crash? (planes and Putin…)

    Who knows, the path of conspiracy theories is a dangerous one to travel – particularly for investigative journalists in Russia.

    Speaking of which, here’s an interesting conspiracy hypothesis: ever superimposed a graphic of US-USSR/Russian Federation relations with a graphic of illegal drugs epidemics in the US? Ever tried to follow these drugs to their source? I haven’t but you may want to.

    So sure, Putin just wants what is best for Russia, but he knows something we have forgotten or chosen to ignore: for a country to be rich, another must be poor. For the Russians and Chinese to live like Americans and Europeans, Americans and Europeans must live like Russians and Chinese.

    Of course there are alternatives to this bleak picture, but they entail a world-wide conversion to self-denying Christianity. In the meantime remember: Putin is ruthless, not an imbecile and not your friend (unless you get a Russian passport like Steven Seagal – then you are in).

  4. Chris Chuba says:

    This is actually a nice summation of a big topic that either spins out of control or gets boiled down into absurdly mindless grunts like, ‘Russian aggression’, uttered by the likes of McCain.

    I’d add that in Crimea, the Russian military was already there, so even that was not an ‘invasion’. I’m skeptical about the extent, if any, Russia is supporting right wing parties in Europe. Western NGO’s were and are unquestionably noodling around the former Russian Republics and even within Russia itself. Russia only recently passed one registry law to contain them.

  5. SteveM says:

    Spot on essay by Pat Buchanan.

    About Trump’s response to the sanctions, “I think we ought to get on with our lives”. Trump is aware of the symmetry of covert action by both the United States and Russia. And he knows that playing negative tit for tat with Russia like Obama is doing would get the relationship nowhere.

    And not only that, but the Minsk accords and the Russia, Turkey, Iran agreement where the U.S. has been shut out must be driving Obama crazy. It’s not only that Putin has been that clever, it’s also that Obama has been that stupid and that clumsy. (The State Dept. spokesman John Kirby is made to look like a clueless fop trying to defend Obama’s reactive machinations.)

    These actions by Obama are the last gasp efforts to minimize narcissistic injury. Too bad Obama has the entire Security State apparatus to validate his warped assessments with twisted logic and gamed evidence, and implement his ill-considered responses. I would not put it past Obama to order covert operations to subvert the Russia-Turkey-Iran initiative because protecting his fragile ego is more important than building an incipient peace and saving lives in Syria.

    Obama now reminds me of Col Saito in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. When LtCol Nickolson (Putin) defeats Col Saito (Obama) in the mind-game, Saito (Obama) retreats back into his East Wing bedroom to weep bitterly into his pillow over the psychic injury. Delicious imagery…

  6. Kurt Gayle says:

    President Obama’s new anti-Russia sanctions are not motivated so much by allegations that Russia hacked the DNC as they are motivated by a Democratic Party effort to drive a wedge between President Trump and the McCain-Graham Republican Russophobes in Congress. Obama and the Democrats figure that if they can stir up enough Republican blow-back to Trump attempts to improve relations with Russia, Congressional Democrats can exploit this blow-back to slow — or even block – key Trump cabinet and court appointees, as well as important Trump legislation.

    Never the sharpest tools in the shed, this would not be the first time that McCain, Graham and their ilk have acted in ways that damage the US national interest. But as Pat Buchanan concludes: “The worst mistake President Trump could make would be to let the Russophobes grab the wheel and steer us into another Cold War that could be as costly as the first, and might not end as peacefully. Reagan’s outstretched hand to Gorbachev worked. Trump has nothing to lose by extending his to Vladimir Putin, and much perhaps to win.”

  7. Three Parantheses says:

    Quick Q: Why don’t the Baltic countries deserve “sovereignty, independence [and] restoration of national identity”?

  8. Kafantaris says:

    Yes, “even the most brutal of the old Soviet dictators seem positively rational next to the folks we have to deal with in the Middle East and elsewhere these days.”
    And yes, “[w]e seem prepared to believe any evil of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which has with its second-rate military establishment and failing economy somehow morphed in the minds of many Americans into a greater threat than the old Soviet Union.”
    But it is Putin himself who has gone out of his way to portray Russia as the old Soviet Union. And it is he who has conducted foreign policy as if indeed it was.
    Because this is the only view of Russia that Putin can accept. But we are not about to help him put the old USSR back together again — in no way shape or form.

  9. SteveM says:

    Re: Three Parantheses, “Why don’t the Baltic countries deserve “sovereignty, independence…”

    Well the Baltics already have those and Russia is not threatening to terminate them. Here are few amplifying points about Russia I posted before that supplement Pat Buchanan’s arguments:

    Consider what Putin’s/Russia’s fundamental strategic objectives are. And ask if the American fear-mongering is consistent with those objectives.

    The Soviet Union is long dead and buried. Post War Poland is a homogeneous country. Poles have a deep historic suspicion of Russia. So Putin would invade Poland for what? To lord over 35 million subversives? The same with the Baltic states that unlike Crimea have only minority Russian populations who are relatively happy with the way things are. So Putin would invade the Baltic states for what strategic purpose? Endless destructive tension with its obvious economic partners?

    Putin has no Mein Kampf or Das Kapital in his back pocket. Six years ago Putin with China advanced the concept of a New Silk Road connecting Shanghai with Berlin through Moscow. Because along with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) they see Eurasian cooperation and development as the linchpin for progress.

    A prosperous Russia via The New Silk Road operating without U.S. hegemonic interference is Putin’s fundamental strategic objective. So what incentive does Putin have to throw a gigantic wrench of military invasion into that machinery?

    The reason for the hyperbolic fear-mongering by American Elites is because that is what they do for a living. (The Think Tank mavens are often paid $200K to $500K a year for their fear-monger screeds scripted by their MIC benefactors.) Nice work if you can get it.

    And more importantly because the U.S. interventionist Elites see ANY coordinated international activity by Russia and/or China as a “threat” no matter how benign. Why? Because the U.S. insists on being the Global Hegemon now and forever more – over everything. The idea that Eurasia could become a self-contained economic sphere independent of U.S. control infuriates those American Elites.

    Well, whether they like it or not, that chapter of American hegemony is ending.

  10. Adriel Kasonta says:

    Malta is the answer, dear Mr Buchanan:

  11. Will Harrington says:

    Three Parenthesis

    Your question makes no sense as the Baltic republics have already attained sovereignty, independence and a restoration of national identity. I think your assumption, with which I am not sure I agree, is that NATO, and by extension us, were somehow obligated to gaurantee that independence, even at the cost of breaking our word to Russia and making the chances of war between nuclear supepowers greater. Actualli, I am sure I disagree with that assumption. Diplomacy and economic integration would be much better methods to gaurantee the independence of the Baltic states than extending NATO to Russias border. Its almost as if our leadership class has some vested interest in ginning up hostility to distract the American people and increase defense (or shoud that be offense) spending.

  12. collin says:

    Can you write a similar POV about China? I believe they are much bigger and potential powerful than Russia here. Additionally, China is not as aggressive as Putin who did not act innocently in both Ukraine and Syria the last couple years. And if hacking is true on the DNC, then he is risking a Rusghazi and his current reaction of calling liberals pathetic losers is certainly not a good way to win potential liberals.

  13. Marcel Mikolasik says:

    I live in the ‘front yard’ of Russia, as you call it. Your position is dangerous as it risks throwing Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary) under the bus.
    I also believe the alleged promise to not allow NATO enlarging eastwards has not been given. It is likely a myth propagated by the Russian narrative. It also exists in other versions such as that it had been given in exchange for Russia agreeing to the unification of Germany.
    Last time the West gave up on CEE in 1938/39, it did not really end well. Have we learned the lesson?

  14. Jack says:

    I wish you could be the next Secretary of State Mr. Buchanan. I can only hope that smart and measured individuals have the ear of President Trump and he is not just hearing the reckless voices of neocons like John Bolton and his ilk.

  15. AJ says:

    Bingo. Excellent big picture view of the deterioration in US-Russian relations. Required reading for McCain and Graham.

  16. NortonSmitty says:

    I beleive with these morons in absolute power it will be hard enough to avoid an actual shooting war.

  17. Dr. Diprospan says:

    Good article, Mr. Buchanan. Adequate and balanced reasoning.
    In Russia there is a federal TV channel with a multi-million audience, which periodically show a documentary film with your ideas and interviews.
    But is it possible to avoid colds? If you get vaccinated, you can avoid the flu.
    Practice shows that only isolation from the mass gathering really helps prevent colds.
    Personally, I like the agronomic approach better. If to inculcate cultural sprout on wild fruit tree, fruit tree begins to bear fruit. This requires of course an experienced
    gardener (Like Mr. Rex Tillerson) and also the demand for the fruits.
    Ronald Reagan said that the common threat of global scale will help to unite different people and different systems. But is it only common threat ensure mutual trust and coherence?

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